Au nom de la sainte et indivise Trinité: un seul Dieu, maintenant et pour toujours. Amen.
We gather joyfully in the presence of God, but also in the shadow of Orlando and continued acts of homophobic violence around the world. We come together around this table to celebrate word and sacrament, a proud and defiant community rejoicing in our differences, and grateful for the support and care of our friends and allies. We stand here ever hopeful, confident in God’s infinite love and care. We call ourselves by many names, yet we are one people.
Nous vivons dans un monde de privilèges hétérosexuels. Nous qui sommes gais, lesbiennes, bisexuels, transgenres ou queer, nous n’avons pas facilement accès à ces privilèges. Le monde ne nous appartient pas de la même façon. Il faut que nous y pensions deux fois avant de nous tenir par la main en public, ou de nous embrasser, ou même de dire qui et ce que nous sommes. C’est comme si nous étions toujours en train de faire notre coming out. Pour la grande majorité qui nous entoure, ces préoccupations n’existent pas, car c’est elle qui dicte la norme. Voilà ce que ça veut dire que d’être privilégié. Ça veut dire avoir le droit de construire le monde à sa façon, avec ses couleurs, ses regards, ses valeurs et même ses préjugés. C’est le monde avec lequel les personnes LGBTQ doivent composer sans cesse. Comme nous savons tous et toutes beaucoup trop bien, ce n’est pas toujours facile d’habiter ce monde. Et parfois, oui, c’est même dangereux. C’est ça la vraie leçon de la tuerie à Orlando.
Entitlement can be a devastating and demoralizing thing. It excludes. It minimizes. It forbids. It ultimately dehumanizes. It refuses the challenge of difference. For us LGBTQ persons, who have so often been made to stand outside the flow of history, the entitlement of others has been the cause of our ostracism, and our exiles, and our imprisonments, and our deaths. Entitlement has moved the bully’s hand, and it has strengthened the lawgiver’s resolve. Entitlement has also mercilessly stalked the stained-glass sanctuaries of our churches. Entitlement, always and everywhere, endures at the expense of the other. In a world of many entitlements of many and varied sorts, how must we, as LGBTQ persons, choose to survive? How can we live more fully with that God-given dignity that is also ours?
We have just listened to that beautiful prayer by Mary, the Magnificat. In order to understand its full impact, you need to imagine the person saying it: a fourteen-year old girl, unwed and pregnant, poor and uncertain of her future, in a way, a refugee in her own culture. This was not a person of privilege. Mary’s prayer may be beautiful, but it is also dangerous and subversive. It talks of God turning our world inside out—of the proud being humbled, the powerful brought down, the rich sent away hungry. It speaks of God’s justice, which is not the same as human justice. And it is shot through with a profound sense of hope in God’s generosity and care. God will provide. God will correct the injustice that is done. God will restore human dignity and human worth. And all this from a young girl standing at the very margins of her society. Maybe that is exactly why she could say it. She knew what it meant to be excluded from privilege and entitlement. She understood vulnerability. She had no other choice but to trust in God’s goodness. Standing on the outside sharpens and deepens one’s perspective.
In what sense can Mary’s hopeful prayer be our prayer as LGBTQ persons? Indeed, can it? How will it sustain us in these uncertain times?
Cette grande prière de Marie nous interpelle avec force, car elle nous permet d’entrevoir un monde nouveau, un monde différent, un monde plus en accord avec ce que Dieu désire. C’est un monde où les privilèges des uns ne sont plus source d’oppression pour les autres, et où chacune et chacun a finalement droit à sa juste part du gâteau. Ce n’est pas le monde que nous habitons, et ce n’est certainement pas le monde que nous connaissons en tant que personnes LGBTQ. Ce monde que Marie nous esquisse—et dans lequel elle croît avec une espérance vraiment à toute épreuve—(ce) n’est pas une utopie naïve ou lointaine. En réalité, c’est la promesse de Dieu. C’est ce que Dieu a toujours voulu pour nous: une terre d’inclusion, un foyer d’appartenance, un royaume—son royaume—qui donne vie et espérance.
Mary’s prayer has the urgent tone of a manifesto. It is a clarion call for social justice and liberation. As LGBTQ persons, I believe it gives us a strong and passionate hope, but it should also make us angry—not angry in the sense of wanting to lash out, but more like a righteous and Godlike anger: an anger that wants to make things right. Because this is God’s promise, and God never reneges on a promise. In fact, this must be an anger born of pride. An anger born from the flames of Orlando, and the death squads of Uganda and Russia, and the smug and pious banalities of so many of our secular and church leaders. Mary had no choice but to rely on God’s promise of a new and better world, but still she trusted deeply. Perhaps we have more choice, but our trust should be as ample and gracious and confident as hers. Our trust should be proud and abundant and rich enough to birth a different world: a world that truly is as God sees and wants it to be.
A few weeks ago, after a somewhat dramatic and unexpected reversal, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada endorsed the call for same-sex marriage in our church. Though this is subject to final ratification in 2019, we are grateful that our own Bishop Mary has chosen to allow same-sex marriage in this Diocese of Montréal. For many of us in the wider church, regardless of the side we may have supported, this has been a painful and difficult process, and our work as a church is certainly not done. For example, I recall listening to the live-stream of the debate, and being appalled that, as an Anglican gay man, I was still being called ‘an abomination’ by fellow clergy. Despite this hurt, however, the more compelling question now becomes: how can we stand together, strong and faithful? It is a question that our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has expressed eloquently in the following words: “For what kind of pastoral and prophetic witness can and will we be known?” It is the question that we have always been asking the church as LGBTQ persons, wherever and whenever we are forced to fight for our lives and for our rights. How will you choose to stand proudly and defiantly with us?
I do not propose to answer this question, as tempting as it might be, because I suspect each of us will have a uniquely different response. But I do feel I need to reassure us. History is on our side, and, more importantly, the Lord of history is on our side. Justice is indeed prevailing. We can be as secure in this as Mary was in her bold and confident affirmation of God’s ultimate sovereignty. God does not leave God’s people behind. God always gathers up God’s people. We heard part of the story of David and Jonathan earlier, a story of same-sex friendship and commitment. We have here, in scripture itself, a proud and confident picture of same-sex love. What can be dirty or abominable or even sinful about that? How can some claim that the God of love has created us, as LGBTQ persons, without a holy capacity for love? And why is that love not as sacred—or not as worthy of celebration—as that of others? Are there superior and inferior loves? No, of course not, and we are indeed proud that our church has now chosen to witness to the equal validity and beauty of all forms of human love. This has no doubt been a prophetic moment for the church. May such moments continue.
Car l’amour avec lequel Dieu nous a créés, cet amour qui nous marque et qui nous guide depuis notre naissance, est un don: un don sacré. Nos amours en tant que personnes LGBTQ sont à l’image même de Dieu: ils ne sont ni inférieurs, ni monstrueux, ni moins vrais, ni moins beaux, ni moins dignes de consécration que ceux des autres. Dieu ne se trompe pas. Dieu nous a créés tels que nous sommes, avec cette capacité d’aimer que nous avons. Nous célébrons cela aujourd’hui, et nous le faisons confiants et confiantes que nous sommes aimés de Dieu.
In the excerpt from his letter to the Galatians that we just heard, Paul is not afraid to affirm a radically new reality in Christ Jesus. It is a new reality where traditional categories of opposition—those binaries that so many of us need in order to shore up our ephemeral lives—no longer matter. They no longer carry the day. They are no longer adequate to the new existence which is ours by virtue of our status as “heirs according to the promise.” Our identity in Jesus is no longer fixed, no longer limited, by virtue of our ethnicity, our social status, our gender, or our sexuality. The message is that we urgently need to move beyond those rigid and dehumanizing categories. It’s not that they are no longer meaningful. Rather, in the person of Jesus, they become quite redundant, and they should not lead to exclusion and separation. Indeed, whether it is a woman or a person of colour presiding at the altar, or a same-sex couple making marriage vows in front of it, prohibition and discrimination have no justifiable place in God’s kingdom. Never.
Plus jamais. En cette semaine de la fierté, et en célébrant qui nous sommes devant Dieu, n’ayons plus peur. We come before God to affirm our LGBTQ pride, and the gift of our difference to the church, not because we should, but because we must. It is our common birthright and duty as those beloved by God. We need no longer hide or be fearful.